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Office Communication Toolkit: 7 common employee gripes (and how to silence them)

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Communication strategies help managers build productive teams

John Wilcox
(800) 543-2055, ext. 4506

A recent study says that 40% of managers in the United States are considered “bad bosses” by their employees. Yet most managers assume that their relationships with their employees are running smoothly.

Obviously, some of those bosses are wrong … and that can create major problems for a business. A Gallup Poll says organizations are 50% less productive—and 44% less profitable—when serious boss-employee conflicts exist.

According to the American Management Association, some common employee complaints about management, plus ways managers can silence them, include:

1.    “My boss doesn’t respect me.”
  • Get to know your employees as people.
  • Treat them as adults and respect their privacy. 
  • Recognize that employees have lives outside work and try to accommodate those needs.
2. “Nobody appreciates my hard work.”
  • Provide regular feedback and recognition.
  • Mix an equal number of “thank-you’s” and “good job” with your critiques. Ask employees for their ideas, and then use them.
  • Thank and reward employees while they’re in the act of performing well; don’t wait for their next review.
3. “There are different rules for different people.”
  • Focus on being fair and consistent with the workload, pay, perks and appreciation.
  • Be aware of the legal risks of making work decisions based on race, age, gender, religion or disability status.
4. “My performance reviews are useless.”
  • Provide continuous feedback. Nothing in the review should come as a surprise.
  • Involve employees in setting goals, and adapt a development mind-set. 
  • Focus on specific employee behaviors (and cite documented examples). Don’t criticize the person’s character traits. 
  • Conduct reviews on time.
5. “My boss micromanages my work.”
  • Realize that employees are not happy when they can’t make decisions. Delegate when possible.
  • Allow employees to have more say in how they do their work.
6. “We have too many meetings.”
  • Institute a time limit on meetings.
  • Use a meeting facilitator.
7. “I hate coming to work.”
  • Ask employees what specifically would improve their outlook. Try to at least meet them halfway.
  • Consider how you can enrich jobs (or juggle tasks among employees) to make them more motivated.

Download’s free report, The Office Communication Toolkit, at

What makes a good boss?

Qualities that U.S. workers consider necessary for being a good boss (in order of importance), according to a Yahoo! survey:

1. Communication/listening skills
2. Effective leadership skills
3. Trust in their employees to do their jobs well
4. Flexibility and understanding
5. Intelligence
6. Teamwork skills
7. Even temperament.

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